Day 8

This morning, we woke up at 6:30, as per usual, and headed to the clinic, only to be met with an extremely slow day. One mother was “on deck” but looked like she’d need more time before really going into labor and only about fifteen babies were waiting in the post-natal ward. After working through them at lighting speed (paperwork train back in action), we were left with relatively nothing to do. The Connect interns working in physical therapy didn’t have any appointments for the rest of the day so they were also sitting around and waiting until our shuttle at 3:30. The only problem was all of us had finished our duties at the clinic around 11 and waiting 4.5 hrs was not going to be easy. Instead, we bid a sweet goodbye to the nursing staff and split an Uber back to the city center. Our Uber driver, Martin, was one of the most interesting men I’ve met in South Africa with revolutionary ideas on Cape Town politics, especially when it came to Parliament’s treatment of the townships. Thanks, Martin for a great ride and 5 stars to you!!

Left with a beautiful day (75 and sunny) and a free afternoon, I decided to hike Lion’s Head, one of the three mountains that surrounds the CBD (central business district) of Cape Town, the other two being Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain. To push it even further, I decided that it’d be a great idea to also hike from my building to the base of Lion’s head: 2.5 miles straight uphill. This was a fantastic idea until about 1.5 miles in when the sidewalk abruptly ended and I was forced to Uber the rest of the way. The first half of the hike was beautiful, forming a corkscrew around the mountain and giving 360 views of the city and surrounding areas (Camps Bay, Sea Point, Atlantic Ocean, etc.). However, as the climb got steeper and steeper, it suddenly turned into r o c k c l i m b i n g sans guides/fences/literally any form of safety (sorry mom and dad). If it tells you anything, a mother with a toddler asked me on my way down if she’d be okay doing the rest of the hike with him on her back and I laughed. See picture below for example.

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However, with one healthy ankle and a whole lotta Taylor Swift, I made it to the top for some absolutely stunning views. All of those pictures are in the photo gallery. The hike down was much easier and as a finale, I was met with a concession cart with only sparkling water. The perfect thirst quencher for a long day (said sarcastically) !

After a nice, long shower, I went with Morganne, Tess, (another) Morgan, and Sarah (both from Michigan State) to the Waterfront to have dinner and see the new movie, Tully. The movie was fantastic and I highly recommend it. An interesting modern take on motherhood (even though the birth they depicted was completely unrealistic, coming from a labor intern). Back at home, I’m ready to pass out as soon as this post is finished. Xhosa word of the day is “mountain”: intaba. Sala kukuhle!

Day 7

Instead of learning information in the labor ward, today was all about learning paperwork. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the post-natal ward is always packed with mothers and their newborns. Mothers need to come in every other day until their baby is at least five days old, weighs at least 2.5 kg, and its cord has fallen off. At that point, they can be discharged to the pediatric ward of their local clinic and don’t need to come back for six weeks to get their immunizations. So when each of the mothers come in with their babies, they must weigh them then we ask a series of questions to document the baby’s growth/status in each of these categories to determine if they need to return or be discharged. Then, a summary of all of this information must be written once in the baby book (for mothers to keep) and again in the patient’s file. Basically, it’s too much paperwork for one woman to handle when forty mothers are waiting at once.

Today, the “Jemsta” taught the four maternity interns how to handle all of the paperwork and we had a beautiful system going. Sa’haara asked the mothers all of the questions and wrote the file summary, Skylar put the baby stickers on clinic records, Nikki wrote the baby book summary, then I ran the books back to the mothers and explained (sometimes with a translator) when their next appointment was. At a few points, I was also pulled aside to watch one of the nurses remove stitches from some of the mothers. These ladies barely grimaced, again, demonstrating their immense strength. We worked all of the women through the post-natal area (I hesitate to say room because, technically, it is one continuous room with the labor and infant care areas) just in time to catch a birth at 2:35 before heading out for the day.

For dinner, Morganne, Tess, and I hit up a delicious ramen joint about two blocks from our apartment and returned home to snuggle up and take Sporcle quizzes. If you’re ever bored and haven’t heard of it before (like Morganne and Tess), check it out. I swear it’s the best pointless time-killer out there, if you’re in the market for that kind of stuff this summer. Xhosa word of the day is “wife”: umfazi.